from the president
It is no secret that my passion for being
an ACM volunteer began with SIGACCESS—
the ACM Special Interest Group on Accessibility
and Computing. As a new volunteer, I was
highly motivated by a talk by Ben
Shneiderman in which he said he
was proud to be part of an organization that had, as part of its code of
ethics, the following: “In a fair society,
all individuals would have equal opportunity to participate in, or benefit from,
the use of computer resources regardless
of race, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin, or other such similar factors.” I, too, am proud to be part of a
society that supports these goals.
As ACM’s President, I remain focused on issues of diversity. I would
like to highlight two key aspects of accessibility already being addressed by
ACM. The first is digital accessibility;
the second is conference accessibility.
Digital accessibility. PDFs in the
ACM Digital Library typically are not
accessible. Within the next year, however, a new set of conference and journal templates will be rolled out that
will include enhanced accessibility
features. Working with a new publications vendor, automatic accessibility
features will be created wherever possible and features that require author
input will be flagged for author attention as part of the production process.
Both accessible PDFs and HTML5 will
be the outputs and will begin populating the Digital Library. Of course,
as with all new processes, we can expect a few bumps along the way. Before release, however, ACM will have
thoroughly tested these enhanced
documents with users representative
of disability communities.
Notably, ACM has committed to
subtitling/closed captioning all video
materials released by ACM. Thus, all
new content on the ACM YouTube
channel will be accessible. This will
benefit not only those with a hearing
loss, but also should prove helpful to
individuals who do not have English as
their first language.
The new ACM website, which rolled
out last year, had accessibility as an
explicit requirement. Representatives
from SIGACCESS and SIGCHI were in-
volved in shaping the details of these
requirements. Critically, users from
disability communities were involved
in testing pages generated by the new
ACM page template.
An ACM Web Accessibility State-
ment is included on the ACM website,
http://www.acm.org/accessibility. It is
worth mentioning that much material
on that website comes from vendors
and volunteers, not from ACM head-
quarters. ACM is working with these
contributors to make their offerings
accessible. The ACM Web Accessibility
Statement includes an accessibility style
guide to assist those contributors in
making their content consistent with
ACM’s Web accessibility standards.
Conference accessibility. ACM has
long had a commitment to making
conferences accessible for attendees
as well as presenters. SIGACCESS and
SIGCHI again are leaders in conference
accessibility (For details, see the article
by Lazar et al. on page 50). The SIGAC-
CESS ASSETS conference has long
been a valuable proving ground given
the high proportion of ASSETS attend-
ees experiencing disability. The SIGAC-
CESS conference guidelines provide a
useful source of information for other
organizers on how to create an accessi-
ble conference, http://www.sigaccess.
For conferences that occur within the
U.S., venues should meet ADA (
Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. Conferences that occur outside
the U.S. are subject to local regulations
governing accessibility. Each conference’s contact at ACM’s SIG Services is
knowledgeable and committed to providing conference experiences that are
accessible. Conference organizers are
encouraged to avail themselves of these
services. In all cases, ACM strives to
meet the needs of attendees who need
accommodation. This is a long-standing commitment and an aspect of ACM
that sets it apart as a premier professional society and about which we can
all be rightfully proud.
Vicki L. Hanson ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is ACM President,
Distinguished Professor at Rochester Institute of
Technology, and a professor at the University of Dundee.
Copyright held by author.
ACM’s Commitment to Accessibility
DOI: 10.1145/3047268 Vicki L. Hanson
As ACM’s President,
I remain focused
on issues of diversity.